Why Failure Helps Christians Learn and Grow

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Most people look at failure as final, but for Christians, its part of what makes them grow.

Mistakes

If not for mistakes, Edison wouldn’t have found the right formula for the long-lasting light bulb. He learned from his mistakes about what didn’t work, and by doing so, he was narrowing down to what finally would work. He didn’t let failure be final but a launching pad from which he could learn, and of course, learn he did. I’ve learned more from my mistakes than when all things were going well. God knows we’ll make mistakes, and that’s okay. When we make mistakes, we’re not intentionally doing something wrong or sinning. We are often sincere, but end up being sincerely wrong, but that’s just fine.Sorrow, depression

Build Others Up

Isn’t it true that the ones we love the most we hurt the most? It seems that way in life. But when you’re disappointed by someone you love, that is the exact time they need you the most. When someone faces a great disappointment is the exact time they need us the most, for we’ve blown it too, if we’re honest with ourselves. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:18), and “build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess 5:11), and do so even when someone’s been hurt. If we’ve hurt them, then we must go to them and confess it and ask for their forgiveness. Tell them the truth. We learn from our mistakes.

Broken Promise

When people we trust let us down, it seems to destroy our relationship with them, at least for a time, but I admit, I’ve broken a promise too. I think we all have at one time or another, and probably because of circumstances beyond our control. The lesson is, don’t promise something that you may not be able to carry out. If we look at our own lives, there have been times when we’ve disappointed others and let them down when they were counting on us, so you can say “Yes, I will try my best to do so and so.” This is why Jesus said, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). If you promise someone something, you must follow through or others will lose their trust in you. We learn who we can count on and who we can’t, but make sure others can count on you.

Friendly Fire

The ones we’ve hurt may have hurt us first, but we have no excuse to try and hurt them back. The last thing we should do is cut off that relationship just because we’ve been hurt. If that happened universally, no one in the world would be friends. Friends sometimes hurt their friends by speaking the truth, but if a friend sees their friend doing something sinful, they must remember, “faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov 27:6). Wouldn’t you rather have your friend hurt your feelings if necessary by telling you the truth than flatter you with lies and let you go on living in sin or biblical error.  Listen to your friend. He/she may be right.

Make Disappointment an Appointment

Some people can take disappointment and make it an appointment; an appointment with God. I know we all disappoint God from time to time, but we would make Him even more disappointed if we let that disappointment be the last chapter (or attempt) in our life story. We can’t make our failures a period but must make it a comma. God cannot work with us anymore if we just give up, so get up, dust yourself off, and keep pressing on. Failure is not the end of an opportunity; it is the process of taking advantage of a new one. Take the disappointment and turn it into an appointment with God!

A Comma, Not a Period

I once counseled a young man who wanted to take his life. He considered suicide as the only way out, but I told him that what you want to make of this situation is not a period (suicide) but a comma, meaning what’s the next chapter in your life story. God wants to use your failure as a comma (character-building opportunity) and not a period (end of the story). Ending your life puts a period where God intends a comma. And only God and God alone have the right to take life for He is the Giver of Life. Part of the trouble is we can’t see beyond the comma. We see a period, but only later do we see that it was a comma!

Failure Not Final

If you fail, it’s not a disgrace. Some of the most famous people have failed…and more than one! The real disgrace is not getting back up after failing. Not that’s a failure, however, if you’ve fallen hard, why not pray since you’re already in a position to? Use your failure as reason to pray to God. Failure is not fatal or final. Failing is a part of life, but it isn’t all of life for both believers and the unsaved. I remember going through college years ago and failing in Algebra. I failed in math and thought my dream of college was over, but I got back up and started hitting the books again. I did pass the next algebra class I took, but I started with an Introduction to Algebra. By stepping back and reviewing the basics, I was finally able to get through college algebra. Now imagine in I had given up. I would have never graduated. I learned that it wasn’t a disgrace to fail after all. I would have failed if I’d given up at that point.

Conclusion

I don’t know of anyone who has never failed at something…other than Jesus Christ, but He is God. We’re human and have to realize that failure is not a disgrace unless you make it the last chapter of your book and give up. Make your disappointments God’s appointments, and make failure a comma instead a period. Learn from your mistakes. I’ve learned the greatest lessons in my life from some of my greatest failures, so when you do fail, don’t fail to pray. Live and learn, knowing that God uses all things for our good and His glory (Rom 8:28).

Here is some related reading for you: 5 Ways Failures in Life Can Shape us into Who God Wants us to Be

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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